U.S. Carries The Water For Venezuelan Opposition In Norway Talks

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Above Photo: El vicepresidente Mike Pence y el autoproclamado Juan Guaidó, en Bogotá, febrero de 2019 (Foto: Reuters)

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Norway has announced that Representatives of Venezuela’s Government and the opposition will return to Oslo this week to start political talks following preliminary meetings days ago.

“We are announcing that the representatives of the main political actors in Venezuela have decided to return to Oslo next week to continue a process facilitated by Norway,” reads a statement released by Norway’s Foreign Ministry, which confirmed its commitment to find “an agreed-upon solution” between the parties.

These announcements have been confirmed by the Venezuelan Government and opposition spokespeople and have brought the political destabilization in the oil-producing country to a new standstill, following efforts of the United States Administration to set up a “parallel State” aimed at destabilizing Venezuela’s state institutions, domestic policy and foreign relations.

The failures of the anti-Chavistas and politicians around the self-proclaimed Juan Guaido, as well as the U.S. Government itself, saw themselves compelled to start auditing the damages of the accusations they’ve received from different fronts. Reactions have increased since the first encounter between Venezuelans in Oslo and now, prior to a second meeting, these tones have marked the agenda.

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, completely out of harmony with any rapprochement among Venezuelans, stated right before Norway’s announcement that “time’s up” for talks and that “it’s time for action.” Interviewed by CNN Spanish, the U.S. Vice-President said that “it’s time for Nicolas Maduro to leave,” saying once again that the military option is still a possibility.

Washington continues to guide the speech for the Venezuelan opposition spokespeople, as was the case when Morgan Ortagus of the U.S. State Department said, “As we have repeatedly stated, we believe the only thing to negotiate with Maduro is the conditions of his departure,” adding that “We hope the talks in Oslo will focus on that objective, and if they do, we hope progress will be possible.” The Wall Street Journal reported this last Saturday when Norway issued its announcement.

Meanwhile, last Sunday, Venezuelan fugitive and former opposition leader Antonio Ledezma started a live debate in his Twitter account pointing some rhetorical questions. “What is going on in Norway in the end? Dialog? What’s that? Ingenuousness? Mistake? Who’s supporting this? Who’s benefitting from this?,” Ledezma wondered.

Ledezma went on to express his clear opposition to the encounter in Oslo, “Maduro and his mafia are tearing the National Assembly apart and then they go to Norway playing innocent. I confirm my support to Guaido but it’s my responsibility to say I disagree with the Norway encounter,” Ledezma said the route to “cease usurpation” is “inalterable.”

On May  26, Juan Guaido undersigned and published a document in his role as “interim president” reiterating —following Washington’s guidelines— that the main goal of the Oslo encounter is to continue with his agenda of “ceasing usurpation, a transition government and free elections.” He said his “office” assumed all options responsibly.

Anti-Chavism and its labyrinth

The opposition is going to Norway with an agenda to remove the Venezuelan Government from office without possibilities of this succeeding anytime soon, given its pressure against the Maduro Administration is ineffective and stuck. Basically, Chavismo has proposed talks among Venezuelans since early January to bring the meddling of the White House to a halt, as well as the economic blockade that strengthened since Guaido became self-proclaimed president.

Now, opponents see themselves compelled to join the initiative despite dismissing that option when they started the new cycle of destabilization. Political talks, just as opposition leaders and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio have said, have previously undermined the weak cohesion of the opposition. This time will not be an exception. For the opposition rank-and-file and most of its leaders, talks complicate their desire to overthrow Maduro by force.

A paradox in this new phase of talks is that the opposition is arriving knowing they are defending a proposal they know is not acceptable for the other party, which is nothing but displacing the Chavism.

Controlling the damages and feigning a strength they actually do not have, Guaido is trying to convince his supporters and a group of skeptical opposition leaders that Chavism is going to Oslo to arrange its departure from power and to agree upon a transition. For opposition leaders such as Maria Corina Machado, talks are just “inconceivable” and “inexplicable” in today’s circumstances, since they believe that Maduro and Chavism are on the ropes and about to leave power.

Creating a possible and relaxed political atmosphere through these talks is contrary to those who thought that besieging Venezuela with the support of pressures from the Trump Administration would be effective. But the soft coup agenda and threats of a military intervention or internal coup have not succeeded and the U.S. and Venezuelan anti-chavism seem to be operating, with difficulty, on a point they had not considered. They seem out of place and like they did not expect any other “Plan B”; except the military option.

Explanations about the visible exhaustion and ineffectiveness of the plan launched by Trump’s Security Advisor John Bolton may mean that the U.S. was wrongly confident of Venezuela’s opposition leaders. That political sector has been historically characterized by its scarce political cohesion, absence of a programmatic scheme, internal divisions, and improvisation. Perhaps Washington did not anticipate this because they do not seem deeply know their local allies.

Perhaps Washington did not pick up on the detail that the Venezuelan opposition has a vast experience of being trapped in dead end roads. This is the fifth time in 20 years under Chavism that they have turned to talks with the Venezuelan Government following the failure of destabilizing agendas and coup attempts.

Perhaps the current Administration in the White House was deceived by Venezuela’s professional anti-chavistas who are experts on creating false expectations and promising big achievements, placing themselves as political subjects capable of undertaking and executing on the ground the removal of Chavism.  Perhaps Washington is now holding responsibility for a failed management against Maduro, precisely because of Bolton’s confidence on the wrong individuals.

The failed coup last April 30 is perhaps one of the main elements that confirm these hypotheses. A failed, “mediocre,” unplanned, without tactical cohesion, coup bumped into Washington’s callings for Venezuelan soldiers to overthrow President Maduro and together it was the height of the anti-chavista failures, which placed them where they are today; adrift and now at the doors of Oslo.